The Apple Watch can be used to help diagnose a potentially fatal heart condition

In a joint study published today, app developer Cardiogram and researchers at the University of California, San Francisco said Apple Watch combined with Cardiogram’s algorithm showed the smartwatch’s sensors can differentiate between a normal heart rhythm and atrial fibrillation (AF). In fact, the study identified AF with 97% accuracy.

There’s hope that the Apple Watch combined with Cardiogram’s algorithm can help diagnose a potentially fatal heart condition. Over the past few months, the company has developed a preliminary algorithm to detect AF using the heart rate sensors on Apple’s smartwatch and Android Wear. Cardiogram’s Health & Heart Rate is a free app for the Apple Watch that helps users track sleep, stress, and fitness using your Apple Watch's built-in heart rate sensor.

"While mobile technology screening won't replace more conventional monitoring methods, it has the potential to successfully screen those at an increased risk and lower the number of undiagnosed cases of AF," Gregory M. Marcus, director of clinical research for the Division of Cardiology at UCSF, told CNET.

The joint study gathered the heart rate and electrocardiogram data from 6,158 individuals. Atrial fibrillation (also called AFib or AF) is a quivering or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. At least 2.7 million Americans are living with AFib.